Travelling outside Europe: inspiration for after the coronavirus crisis

With everyone stuck at home, now is the best time to plan ahead for a future holiday. Check flight prices, hotel bookings, and whether you need a visa.

The global outbreak of coronavirus has put a spanner in the works for people who had planned an extensive trip abroad.

Due to the border lockdowns, international travel is generally not possible at the moment.

However, now is the perfect time to plan ahead for a future trip! Half the fun in going on a holiday is in the excitement of getting everything ready.

From flight tickets to the right clothes, maybe a bathing suit and some sunscreen, and of course finding out whether your dream destination requires a visa.

Southeast Asia, the ultimate destination for backpackers

We’ll start in Southeast Asia, one of the most popular regions among backpackers in particular.

The countries in Southeast Asia offer a mix of interesting culture, nature and delicious food. Moreover, the countries here are very cheap by western standards and therefore popular especially among younger people.

Vietnam is one of these countries where culture and nature come together in perfect harmony. The rich history of the country can be seen, for example, in the capital’s Old Quarter, where one finds colonial buildings and various ancient monuments.

Symbols of Buddhist culture, such as pagodas and temples, are everywhere in Vietnam. The hectic traffic in the country with thousands of mopeds and scooters is a highlight in itself.

In addition, the country is known for its beautiful nature. Halong Bay is perhaps the biggest highlight for travellers going to Vietnam.

The landscape with its islands and distinct rock formations and floating villages cannot be missed for any first-timer heading to Vietnam.  Another favourite of many travellers is Sapa, a mountain village with fantastic views over Vietnam’s picturesque rice fields and valleys.

Note that travellers headed to Vietnam require a Vietnam visa.

A tour of Vietnam is often combined with trips to other countries in Southeast Asia, such as Cambodia, Laos or Thailand.

Travel from Vietnam to the temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, relax on the pearly white beaches of Thailand or visit the metropolis of Bangkok.

Breath-taking nature and cosmopolitan cities in North America

North America is another region that sits near the top of any travel bucket list.

Combined, the United States and Canada are almost as big as the entirety of Europe. It’s no surprise, then, that the continent offers countless possibilities for a journey.

Both countries have a healthy mix of urban settings and natural beauty, from bustling metropolises straight out of a film set to numerous national parks and pristine nature reserves.

When talking about the United States, most people immediately think of the Big Apple or LA, but the country has many more cities that are worth a visit, such as San Francisco, known of course for the impressive Golden Gate Bridge, or the capital Washington D.C., where the White House and the Capitol can be seen up close.

Think of Boston with the famed Harvard University, sunny Miami with its beaches and distinct Cuban influences, or Denver, at the foot of the Rocky Mountains.

Canada is likewise a great destination for city lovers. Admire the skyline of Toronto with the 553-metre high CN Tower or discover the French influences in Montreal and Quebec.

North America is also the perfect place for nature lovers as the United States has no less than 62 national parks spread throughout the country.

Yosemite is one of the most visited parks and attracts millions of visitors each year with its many waterfalls, glaciers and rock formations.

Another favourite among hikers is Yellowstone, America’s oldest national park, where you can finds geysers and volcanic structures.

Canada’s most visited national parks are Banff and Jasper in the Rocky Mountains.

The parks are characterised by spectacular mountain scenery and the numerous wild animals that can be spotted there.

A must-see for travellers to North America are the Niagara Falls, three waterfalls on the border between the United States and Canada.

Travellers should be aware that both the USA and Canada require specific travel permits to enter the country.

For the USA, this is either a visa or an ESTA, and for Canada this is the eTA.

The only people that are exempt from this mandatory requirement are those arriving by land. For example, if you fly to the USA and then travel from there to Canada by car, train or bus, you do not need to apply for an eTA, but you still do need an ESTA.

Likewise, if you are flying to Canada and travelling over land to the United States, only an eTA is required.

Travel preparations: apply for your visa on time

Planning a trip does not only consist of mapping out a route and the sights to be visited. There are also some practical matters that need to be attended to, such as visa applications.

While travelling outside Europe is in many cases prohibited, it is still possible to apply for a visa for most countries.

These visas can be valid for extended periods of time, meaning you can already apply for one for a trip later this year or even next year.

For example, the eTA for Canada is valid for five years. Once you get one, it can be used to travel to Canada during any point in those five years.

The United States currently bans travellers who have been to one of the Schengen countries, Ireland or the United Kingdom in the 14 days prior to their arrival.

The ESTA visa is valid for two years. Just like with the eTA for Canada, you can travel to the United States at any point during this two-year validity.

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